GM Cutlass RWD 1970-1987 Repair Guide

Spark Plug Wires



Every 15,000 miles (24,135 km), inspect the spark plug wires for burns, cuts, or breaks in the insulation. Check the boots and the nipples on the distributor cap. Replace any damaged wiring.

Every 45,000 (72,405 km) miles or so, the resistance of the wires should be checked with an ohmmeter. Wires with excessive resistance will cause misfiring, and may make the engine difficult to start in damp weather. Generally, the useful life of the cables is 45,000-60,000 miles (72,405-96,540 km).

To check resistance, remove the distributor cap, leaving the wires in place. Connect one lead of an ohmmeter to an electrode within the cap; connect the other lead to the corresponding spark plug terminal (remove it from the spark plug for this test). Replace any wire which shows a resistance over 30,000 -. The following chart gives resistance values as a function of length. Generally speaking, however, resistance should not be considered the outer limit of acceptability.

  1. 0-15 inches: 3,000-10,000 -
  3. 15-25 inches: 4,000-15,000 -
  5. 25-35 inches: 6,000-20,000 -
  7. Over 35 inches: 25,000 -

It should be remembered that resistance is also a function of length; the longer the wire, the greater the resistance. Thus, if the wires on you vehicle are longer than the factory originals, resistance will be higher, quite possibly outside these limits.

When installing new wires, replace them one at a time to avoid mix-ups. Start by replacing the longest one first. Install the boot firmly over the spark plug. Route the wire over the same path as the original. Insert the nipple firmly onto the tower on the distributor cap, then install the cap cover and latches to secure the wires.